In case you did not notice, The Florida legislature just passed some changes to tort law in the State of Florida that should cut down on frivolous lawsuits by limiting injury cases, insurance litigation and attorney fees. Before we move forward, many reading this may be wondering “What is tort law?” In a nutshell, tort law is the area of the law that covers most civil lawsuits. In other words, a tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. Unfortunately, we have seen many instances of abuse with tort law, which has led to many frivolous lawsuits and ultimately resulting in higher costs for many Floridians in the form of higher insurance premiums.
Tort reform and House Bill (HB) 837
Just recently, Governor DeSantis of Florida signed House Bill (HB) 837 into law. According to the governor’s office, House Bill (HB) 837, titled Civil Remedies, modifies the “bad faith framework, eliminates one-way attorney’s fees and fee multipliers, and ensures that Floridians can’t be held liable for damages if the person suing is more at fault.” Essentially, this bill expands immunity for property owners who are defending against a criminal who is injured on their property and reduces the statute of limitations for general negligence cases from four years to two years. Although this may offer some relief for landlords and property owners, it is important that thorough security and safety checklists are implemented for any property.
Physical property safety measures
In order for property owners to assume presumption against negligence, there should be some important physical property safety measures implemented:
- A list of physical property safety measures to be taken on the property
- A crime prevention analysis
- Crime prevention training for all employees
Although these measures may seem more applicable to business owners, they actually apply to residential landlords as well. Some examples of items that may be considered for a residential property include:
- Having a security camera system on the property
- Well lit walkways and rooms throughout the property
- Locking devices for all openings (i.e. doors, windows, etc…)
- Appropriate non-skid flooring installed in areas prone to wetness (i.e. pool decks, showers, bathrooms, etc…)
Florida tort reform should have a positive impact on the real estate market in the state. House Bill (HB) 837 may make it more affordable for homeowners to purchase and maintain property, and may make the state more attractive for businesses to operate in Florida. This may lead to an increase in demand for real estate, which should help to boost the market even more.
However, some experts believe that the reforms have also had a negative impact on the market. They argue that the reforms have made it more difficult for victims of negligence to get the compensation they deserve. Ultimately, this could lead to a decrease in the quality of life for some people.
Overall, the impact of Florida tort reform on the real estate market is a complex issue. There are both positive and negative impacts, and it is difficult to say whether the overall impact is positive or negative. As with most things, there are opposing views on this topic.
Are you looking to move to Florida? We can help! Contact Natasha at Live South Florida Realty, Inc. today! Also, be sure to download the free Florida Home Search for your smartphone or tablet as well.